Poor mothers who are single or who have depression are more likely to overfeed their infants by adding cereal to baby bottles, a practice that can lead to excess weight gain in infants, a new study reveals.
For the study, U.S. researchers examined data from 254 mothers of infants in low-income, primarily Hispanic households and found that 24 percent of the mothers put cereal in baby bottles. Those with depression were 15 times more likely to do so than those without depression.
"Depression is very common in low-income mothers and makes it more difficult to engage in beneficial parenting practices in general," lead author and general academic pediatrics fellow Dr. Candice Taylor Lucas, an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.
"Our results are especially concerning because they suggest that depressed mothers may be more likely to add cereal to the bottle, which may increase their children's risk of obesity," Lucas added.
The researchers also found that single mothers were much more likely to add cereal to bottles, along with mothers who felt their children had intense emotional reactions to daily routines.
"Overall, these findings demonstrate that stressors prevalent in low-income households, such as depression, single parenthood and associated infant behavioral challenges, influence feeding practices likely to promote obesity," Lucas concluded. "It is important to provide support for parents related to healthy feeding practices if we are to end the epidemic of childhood obesity."
The study was slated for presentation Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston. The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more about infant nutrition.
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